Is seitan the work of the devil?
I first discovered seitan when I was looking for different meat substitutes when I was just following a veggie diet, so I have tried and tested a few different seitan recipes which I will share soon. Our favourite as a family is Vegan Donner Kebab - an oxymoron at its finest!
So what is seitan? It is a meat substitute that is a bit of a labour of love as there are a few, not very complicated though, stages to its production. It is very versatile and lends itself to many different dishes, once you have the hang of the basic concept of how to make it, the only limit is your imagination. The baguette on my home page is a "steak" and vegan blue cheese sandwich made with seitan steak, homemade spicy squash and apple chutney and rocket leaves - yummy!
The main ingredient for seitan is vital wheat gluten. This is, as I understand it in layman's terms, is the wheat grain with all the starch washed away, leaving the protein, gluten.This is dried and made into a powder. So whilst most people are avoiding gluten and cutting down on wheat, we on a plant based diet are actively seeking it out! I haven't found it in any health shop - but then I live in Lancashire! Maybe somewhere a bit more cosmopolitan might have it more readily available. I get it from www.buywholefoodsonline.co.uk The product itself is cheap as chips, but it costs as much in postage to buy 1kg as 5kg, so this time I pushed the boat out and bought a bigger batch. I didn't quite think through how big a quantity 5kg was though. Aleast no one at work has challenged my questionable white powder deliveries.
From a nutritional point of view, vital wheat gluten is an excellent source of protein - around 75g per 100g of powder. There is about 14g of carbohydrate, then a mishmash of fats and fibre, so all in all a relatively inexpensive and nutritious stash of protein to have in. It's probably just as well as we are going to be eating seitan for the foreseeable!
It goes without saying that anyone with an intolerance to gluten or coeliac disease should avoid seitan like the plague!
I will share some of my favourite seitan recipes over the coming weeks. I think the key is not to be frightened of it, don't be shy of adding lots of different flavours to the dough, make sure it is well kneaded prior to cooking too as this improves the meaty texture.
I hope you enjoy playing with Wheat Meat as much as I do ;-)